Former president Jacob Zuma’s leave to appeal the high court judgment dismissing his application for a stay of prosecution “is regrettably marred by disrespectful and intemperate language, and allegations directed at the full bench”, according to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).
“We respectfully submit that, as a mark of its displeasure, this court should order Mr Zuma to pay the costs of this application on the attorney-client scale, regardless of the outcome,” the NPA proposed in its submission responding to Zuma’s leave to appeal filed on Monday.
In the court papers, the NPA said another appeal court would not come to a different conclusion to that of the high court regarding Zuma’s pursuit of a stay of prosecution and it should therefore not be heard.
Zuma had previously raised a number of concerns regarding the prejudice and reputational harm done to him by, among others, the NPA.
However, it replied this “goes hand in hand with being charged”.
In his appeal, Zuma’s lawyer, Dan Mantsha, said the high court ignored evidence that the NPA admitted that its conduct had prejudiced Zuma.
He added the court had downplayed the “constitutional prejudice” Zuma said he suffered, quoting the court’s judgment that the “seriousness of the offences that Mr Zuma is facing outweighs any prejudice, which he claims he will suffer if the trial proceeds”.
“The high court erred in finding that the elevation of Mr Zuma to the President of the Republic shows that he did not suffer prejudice as a result of the conduct of the NPA,” Mantsha said.
“The High Court ought to have found that Mr Zuma became president despite the established and admitted gross violations of his constitutional right by the NPA.”
However, the NPA maintained the court did not find that Zuma had suffered reputational harm.
“What in fact this court found was the reputational harm, which he claims to have suffered, goes hand in hand with being charged.
“This court cannot be faulted, either on the law or the facts, for its finding in the judgment … that the seriousness of the offences that Mr Zuma is facing outweighs any prejudice, which he claims he will suffer if the trial proceeds,” the NPA said.
“The offences with which Mr Zuma is charged are indeed very serious, involving as they do the corruption of the second most senior member of the national executive.”
In his appeal, Mantsha said the NPA had acted unlawfully in naming Zuma as Shabir Shaik’s unindicted co-conspirator, calling it a “trial by proxy of Mr Zuma”.
His lawyers previously argued the NPA’s decision not to charge Zuma along with Shaik effectively resulted in Zuma being tried in his absence, as he was not able to cross-examine witnesses, News24 reported.
In the current appeal, Mantsha insisted that: “It’s [the NPA’s] choice of trial by proxy of Mr Zuma and other due process violations constitute an abuse of process and a violation of Mr Zuma’s right to be presumed innocent.
“As things stand and in view of the reasoning of the judgment, the trial court might as well merely consider the transcript of the State vs Shaik trial and sentence Mr Zuma,” he said.
The NPA replied this was far-fetched, adding “what Mr Zuma does not explain, because he cannot, is how and why the entire transcript of those proceedings will stand as evidence against him in his trial”.
The NPA cited Zuma’s continued “Stalingrad defence tactics” as another reason the court should not hear his appeal.